It worked so well last year that creators have brought back the ice highway connecting mainland Minnesota with the state's Northwest Angle.
The 37-mile Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road across the sprawling Lake of the Woods opened over the weekend, and through mid-March will allow motorists to bypass a trip through Manitoba and drive directly between the Springsteel Resort in Warroad and Flag Island portage. Travel time is about 2½ hours at top speeds of 20 to 25 mph.
"You will be on the ice road that connects all the island resorts and mainland resorts," the road's creators wrote on their Facebook page.
Motorists pay $250 for a round trip or $650 for a season pass.
The road over the frozen water debuted last year as resort owners sought a way to give tourists access to the most northern point in the contiguous 48 states. The area is separated from the rest of Minnesota by Lake of the Woods, and for most of the year the only way to reach it by vehicle is by traveling 60 miles around the lake on roads through Canada.
When Canada sealed its borders last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Northwest Angle and those who lived there were isolated from the rest of the state. Summer resort business dropped off dramatically and winter business was looking to be bleak. The Northwest Angle is known for its ice fishing.
Ingenuity struck, and resort owners plowed a 22-mile route across Lake of the Woods, making what was believed to be the longest ice road in the United States. It is an expensive endeavor, costing as much as $1,500 per mile to plow and maintain.
Even though there are fewer restrictions at the U.S.-Canadian border this year, resort owners brought the ice highway back, expanded its length all the way to the north end of the angle inlet and added branches serving a number of resorts.
The ice highway is open during daylight hours, or when weather permits. A Facebook post on Tuesday morning said "the road will be closed due to snow and high winds predicted."